Bonhoeffer’s Social Theology

Part of the Radical Theologies and Philosophies book series (RADT)


This chapter begins with an introduction to Bonhoeffer’s own conceptual framework focusing on a selection of thinkers—Toeltsch, Seeberg and von Harnack—who, during his studies in Berlin, influenced his sustained engagement with social philosophical thinkers (such as Hegel) and developed the social orientation of his theology. After this, his doctoral dissertation Sanctorum Communio is read from Žižek’s perspective in order to examine: Bonhoeffer’s understanding, criticism and development of Hegel, particularly his conception of universality based upon the subject–object relationship and the concept of objective spirit; his attempt to demonstrate the sociality of theological concepts of God, sin and the church; and his upholding of the latter as a model form of community. Finally, Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on the social forms of society, mass and community are examined through their application to contemporary struggles for social change—Occupy and Black Lives Matter.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

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